Family Vigils

Down on the corner of 26th Street and Lexington Avenue, the pictures may be the most poignant reminders of all. "Have you seen this man," asks a flier taped to a curbside mailbox. "His name is Jason DeFazio and he worked at World Trade Center 1. He has a chipped front tooth that had been bonded, pins in his right knee, a scar and a tattoo on his left arm." Posted nearby, another page carries two photocopied pictures of Geoff Campbell. "Missing WTC 1 (possibly on 106th floor). He was running late for Rush Waters conference."

For the last 24 hours, this intersection has become a magnet for the families of those still officially classified as "missing" since Tuesday's attack on the New York's World Trade Center. They've come to the 69th Regiment Armory here as part of their frantic search for news of those they haven't heard from in more than 48 hours. And after they've filled out a nine-page missing-person's file describing the identifying marks and clothing worn by their loved ones, they're appealing to the reporters clustered on the northeast corner for help in publicizing their search.

"I believe my brother's alive," says Zara Khan. "We're very close. I would feel it [if he weren't.]" Khan's brother, Taimour, 29, was at work at Carr Futures on the 92nd floor of Tower One when the plane hit his building. A friend e-mailed his wife immediately afterward to say he and his colleague had survived, but no word has been heard from either of the two men since. "He's very handsome, he has the rest of his life ahead of him," says a red-eyed Khan, showing a picture of his brother with his mother, Tahira Khan.

A few feet away, Tahira Khan is sobbing softly as she speaks to a television crew. Howie Greenspan, a friend of the missing man, is standing behind her, holding up one of the fliers the family has printed to ensure the picture on it is caught by the cameras. Later, he distributes them to passers-by.

Agonizing snippets of hope are everywhere. "Maybe she wasn't at her desk, maybe she was just getting coffee," suggests one man hopefully, speaking of a missing friend who worked in one of the World Trade Center's highest floors.

Even a police officer who has been working in the armory since 7 a.m. says he is optimistic. "People are alive there," the New York Police Department sergeant-who asked not to be identified-told NEWSWEEK. "They're calling from their cell phones. Earlier a man played me a voice mail from a friend who called him today around 11:30 to say he was trapped in the rubble. He said 'get me out'."

The officer said the armory-which was off-limits to the media-would remain open 24 hours a day for those who needed it. By Thursday afternoon, the line to enter stretched around the block and police had closed sections of the street to traffic. Volunteers bearing boxes of fruit, water and food offered them to those waiting in the heat, brushing off thanks and murmuring it was the least they could do.

"It's kind of quiet inside [the armory]," says Eric Sommer, a member of the Pastoral Care Commission that arranges for counselors and religious leaders to assist family members after they've completed their interviews with detectives. "There's a lot of prayer," says one chaplain as she emerges from the building. "People are very grateful for prayer."

The counselors also help the relatives check through two available lists: one of those in hospitals; one of those confirmed dead. Given the number of likely victims, the lists are short and rarely provide the information needed.

Still, says Sommer, "there haven't been a lot of hysterical people at all. People are trying to be hopeful."

For many of those waiting, though, there's little room for anything but despair. The cousin of missing engineer Frederick Kuo Jr.-too choked-up to give his name-describes how Kuo called his wife Tessie from his Washington Group International office on the 92nd floor of the south tower Tuesday morning. He told her he'd seen the north tower hit, but his own building was OK. "Then he shouted, 'Oh my God ...' and that was the last she's heard from him. She's pretty much given up hope," says Kuo's cousin. "I hope they can find his body ... we want to do a nice burial."

Kuo's picture, too, is on a flier. It shows a smiling, bespectacled man and lists his distinguishing marks as a mole on his right cheek. Several copies are taped to a nearby payphone and traffic light. Other smiling faces are there, too. There's Paul Ortiz Jr., a clean-cut 22-year-old whose picture of him proudly holding his 10-month-old daughter is pinned to the blue-painted wood of a police barricade. There's Douglas Farnum, 33, who would have celebrated his first wedding anniversary in 11 days' time. He wore a silver wedding band that was inscribed "love Amy." There's Raymond J. Metz, hugging his daughter. There's Bruce Eagleson, "age approximately 50-was last seen on building #2." All are missing, and all their families are hoping the pictures may jog someone's memory.